My eyes opened, only to see Alessio sitting next to me. He was already dressed in his suit, his hair a little wet with a few strands sticking to his forehead.
"Good morning," he murmured, gently moving my hair from my face.
"Good morning," I whispered back sleepily.
"I"ll see you at breakfast," Alessio said as he got up. Nodding, I watched him smile before he left the room. When the door closed behind him, I turned around and burrowed further into my pillow.
Today was the day. I was going shopping.
Letting out a small, excited laugh, I got up and went to the bathroom. After freshening up, I changed into my black maid dress. Instead of braiding my hair like I usually did, I left it down. It fell in small waves behind my back, just the way Alessio loved it.
My smile dropped when I caught sight of my scars in the mirror. Swallowing hard, I looked down at my arms and traced the pink lines with my fingers. I thought of Alberto.
Slowly, I lost the little hope that was blooming in my chest. My heart clenched.
I couldn"t go shopping.
That wasn"t possible. Not when Alberto was still looking for me. If I went out, his men would find me and I would be taken back to the hell I had been in. I would have to live my nightmare again.
I didn"t think I was strong enough to go through it again. After finding such happiness, if I had to go back, this time"I wouldn"t make it out alive.
I had just found my heart; I wasn"t ready to lose it.
Taking several deep breaths, I tried to calm the panic rising inside of me. I placed a hand over my chest and controlled my breathing like Sam taught me.
The world eventually stopped twirling, and my vision wasn"t blurry anymore. With a shake of my head, I walked out of the bathroom and Alessio"s room, closing the door behind me.
How was I going to explain this to Maddie" She was really excited to go shopping with me.
She had everything planned: the shopping and even going as far as making plans to watch a movie afterward and then having dinner before returning home.
I felt guilty, knowing I had to ruin her little happy moment.
After serving lunch, I quickly made an excuse about not feeling okay, hoping it would come across as natural.
"I think I"m going to lay down. I don"t feel so good," I said quietly beside Maddie.
She glanced at me, and her lips twisted sadly. "Okay. Go take a break," she replied before turning back to the table.
I felt Alessio"s eyes on my back as I headed upstairs, but I didn"t look back. In my room, I fell on my bed with my face buried in my pillow, feeling completely emotionally and physically drained.
Both of my lives kept intersecting. My past and my present. There was no leaving the past behind.
When I heard Maddie"s voice, I quickly sat up. "Ayla, it"s me. Can I come in""
Pressing a trembling hand over my forehead, I shook with tension. I swallowed hard against the ball of nervousness and stood up, taking careful steps toward the door.
Think. Think, Ayla. Think of something.
"I"m coming," I called out in a trembling voice.
I rested a hand on the doorknob and held my stomach with the other, biting on my lips as my shoulders strained with the tension. Opening the door, I gave Maddie a forced smile.
"Hey, are you okay"" she asked worriedly, pushing the door wider to step inside.
"No. I don"t feel so good. I have a headache, and my stomach hurts a little," I mumbled, holding my stomach as I leaned against the wall.
Maddie gave me a pitied look before nodding sadly. "It"s that time of the month, isn"t it" I know it"s a pain in the ass. Or vagina, I should say."
I nodded back. At least that was true, so it worked with my fabricated lie.
"We can go shopping another time. No worries. We can shop online today, if you want," she suggested.
"Okay," I replied with a smile. That sounded better, even though I didn"t know we could shop online. How much did I actually miss while living with my father and Alberto"
"I"ll be right back. Let me get my laptop." Maddie left the room quickly.
I walked back to my bed and sat down. Rubbing my hands over the satin comforter, I found the softness calming. Closing my eyes, I tried to get rid of the negative, painful thoughts. I needed to stop thinking about the past.
"I"m back!" Maddie announced as she came back into the room. "Okay. Let"s shop!" She placed the laptop between us.
I couldn"t help but laugh at her enthusiasm. She knew how to make a situation lighter. Most importantly, she knew how to make me laugh, and that was exactly what I needed.